Potential Jurors Questioned

March 4, 2008 9:32:38 PM PST
Jury selection began Tuesday in the death penalty case of Ramadan Abdullah.The 26-year-old is accused of shooting and killing Fresno County Sheriff's Deputy Erik Telen in 2001.

Exactly 453 people were called and saw Ramadan Abdullah face to face. The potential jurors quickly learned they may be judging the facts for a notorious murder case that carries the ultimate punishment.

Deputies scrambled when they learned one of their own was shot. The crime happened in the summer of 2001 near the eastern Fresno County town of Dunlap.

The Sheriff at the time called Erik Telen's death an assassination.

Dennis Peterson, Prosecutor: "This is sort of a peace officer's worst nightmare."

Prosecutor Dennis Peterson will try the case against Ramadan Abdullah. Hundreds of people lined up Tuesday morning to begin jury selection.

Peterson expects a tough time selecting jurors because the case carries the death penalty. Potential jurors answered a 24-page questionnaire. Many questions were focused on their attitudes about capital punishment.

One of the questions asked "do you believe in the saying, "an eye for an eye?" Peterson said they chose the death penalty because of the crime's circumstances.

Peterson: "To be killed in the fashion he was killed is obviously something that needs to be deterred."

Abdullah plead not guilty by reason of insanity. The case been delayed for years, because twice he was found incompetent to stand trial. Criminologist Eric Hickey believes the defendant could face another break down.

Hickey: "The defendant could be experience all kinds of pressure considering his life is at stake and he's facing going to court and being exposed to the public again."

Abdullah's defense attorney declined to comment. Jury selection is expected to take up to a month to complete. The judge expects the trial to last up to three-months.


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